Balkan Worlds: The First and Last Europe

Balkan Worlds: The First and Last Europe

Balkan Worlds: The First and Last Europe

Balkan Worlds: The First and Last Europe


Encompassing the period from the Neolithic era to the troubled present, this book studies the peoples, societies and cultures of the area situated between the Adriatic Sea in the west and the Black Sea in the east, between the Alpine region and Danube basin in the north and the Aegean Sea in the south. This is not a conventional history of the Balkans. Drawing upon archaeology, anthropology, economics, psychology and linguistics as well as history, the author has attempted a "total history" that integrates as many as possible of the avenues and categories of the Balkan experience.


It is a great personal as well as professional pleasure for me to introduce Traian Stoianovich to readers of world history. It is a special honor for me to introduce this book. I was one of Traian Stoianovich's graduate students in 1967 when he published A Study in Balkan Civilization, a short precursor of the present work, and along with his teaching, it changed the way I thought about history forever.

Like its model, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, by his teacher and mentor, Fernand Braudel, Traian Stoianovich's interpretation of Balkan history is not intended as a history of the world. But, like Braudel, Stoianovich chose a region of enormously varied nations and cultures and, by inventing new categories of historical meaning, treated it as a single unit. The freshness of those categories and the brilliant way in which they integrated and gave meaning to diverse histories, which are typically treated separately, was what appealed to this graduate student. It was, of course, a route to world history.

Greek and Balkan history have long offered routes to world history, if not since Herodotus, certainly in the twentieth century. One thinks of Arnold Toynbee, William H. McNeill, and L. S. Stavrianos. The Balkans are a microcosm of the world. The region cries out for analysis that transcends the boundaries of nation states, language, and confessions of faith. To understand the Balkans is to understand a world.

Balkan Worlds is, however, much more than a route to world history or a history of a world in miniature. It is, in and of itself, a world history in significant and striking ways. It is a world history, for example, in its chronological scope; it surveys the Balkans over a period of ten thousand years. To make sense of so many millennia, Stoianovich does not narrow his focus, however; he widens it. He chooses to discover every possible route to historical knowledge, to devise a "total history" that excludes nothing on principle. But total history is not a prescription for the gathering of ever more trivial data; in Stoianovich's hands it is the reverse. It allows him to decipher the most important changes, those that a concentration on the usual array of "historical events" belies. Stoianovich asks about such things as climate, the balance between seeing and hearing, and the . . .

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